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Full text of "The Bradford prayer book, 1710: some account of "The Book of Common Prayer," printed A.D. 1710, by William Bradford, under the auspices of Trinity Church, New York."

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$B SS 502 











I 710. 


"Ik look of l^ommon :]ni^t\," 

Printed A. D. 171 o, 


William Bradford^ 



The first edition of that book ever printed on the American Contir 




|fe f irat Imerican "loolt of |^oinmon Brager." 

[From the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, July 15, 1870.] 

HE LOVERS of early and rare Ameri- 
can books, and especially such of them 
as belong to the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, have recently had a gratifica- 
tion by the discovery of a copy of the 
first edition of the\" Book of Common 
Prayer" ever printed on this continent. 
The fact that an edition of the volume had been 
printed by William Bradford, the first printer of the 
Middle States and an early vestryman of Trinity 
Church, New York, somewhere between the years 
1704 and 17 14 was noted by Mr. John William 
Wallace in his admirable address before the Histori- 
cal Society of New York, on the occasion of the 
bicentenary celebration of Bradford's birth, in New 
York, on the 20th of May, 1863, by Trinity Church 
and the Historical Society just named. But the 
evidence of the publication rested wholly on early 
records of Trinity Church which Mr. Wallace had 


The First American 

been allowed to inspect. No copy of the book could 
then be found in New York, nor was there any evi- 
dence that any had ever been seen, and Mr. Wallace, 
in his printed address, stated that he was quite 
unable to say whether or not "any copy of this 
Editio princeps Americana of a book which now 
covers the continent in numberless forms, has 
survived its century and sixty years." In fact, 
numerous persons doubted whether at that early 
day the book had ever actually appeared. But 
behold! in 1870 a copy turns up in Philadelphia! 
Mr. John Jordan, Jr., an indefatigable and very 
liberal member of the Historical Society of Penn- 
sylvania, getting certain intimations, discovers in some 
old library the precious volume, which, as names 
in it show, belonged a hundred and fifty years ago 
to some of the parishioners of Christ Church, in 
this city. Of so curious a volume — one which 
stands at the head of the immense line of issue of 
"Prayer Books" which has since been proceeding 
from the American press — every particular will 
prove interesting to bibliographers and ecclesiolo- 
gists of the Episcopal Church, and we have pro- 
cured from Mr. Horatio Gates Jones, well known 
for his interest in our early literature, a correspond- 
ence between himself and Mr. Wallace, the 

Book of Common Prayer. 

President of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 
to which the Bradford Prayer Book now belongs. 
The correspondence, we have no doubt, will prove 
a valuable record. 

The North American and United States 
Gazette, speaking of this volume, justly says that 
''the early date at which this book was printed 
— 1 710, and the fact that the English Book of 
Common Prayer was never, so far as we know, 
printed on this continent during the colonial term 
afterward, speaks highly of Bradford's enterprise." 

The correspondence referred to, is as follows: 

Roxborough^ Philadelphia^ July 9, 1870. 
Hon. John William Wallace, 

President of the Historical Society of Pennsyl'vania. 

Dear Sir: 

Numerous inquiries have been made about "the 
first Prayer Book" which Mr. Jordan recently gave 
to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Some 
notices of it have appeared in the New York papers, 
where the book was sent for exhibition, but I do 
not know how accurate they are. I see that you 
presided at the last meeting of our Society, when 
the donation of the book was made. I shall be 
much obliged, if your leisure allows, if you would 
write something that I can use as a record of 

The First American 

that precious volume, bibliologically and typograph- 
ically alike. 

I well remember that when the Bradford Prayer 
Book was spoken of by yourself in your address 
at the splendid celebration in New York a few 
years since, when Trinity Church erected a new 
monument to William Bradford, the first printer 
of the Middle States, many of the New York 
bibliophiles argued that the absence of any such 
volume from the library of the opulent "Bradford 
Club " was a very strong evidence that no copy 
could have ever been actually issued by Mr. Brad- 
ford, although it was admitted that a publication 
of the volume by him had been contemplated in 
very early times. I dislike to disturb you in 
your occupations, but a brief description of this 
book will prove of great satisfaction to many 
who are interested in the early literature of our 


I am yours most truly, 


728 Spruce St., Philadelphia, July 12, 1870. 
My Dear Sir: ^ 

The Prayer Book about which you inquire is a 
copy of the identical Prayer Book of which the 

Book of Common Prayer. 

origin is to be found in an early record of Trinity 
Church, New York, as follows : 

"August 23, 1704. 

" Ordered that the Church Wardens to lend Mr. Bradford 

£30 or £40 for six months, on security, without interest, 
for purchasing paper to print Comon Prayer Books." 

And for the return of which money the Rev. 
John Sharpe, D.D., Chaplain of the Queen's forces 
at the Fort, and, as such, an assistant minister of 
Trinity Church, became Bradford's security. The 
book is a small quarto, "Printed and sold by 
William Bradford, in New York, in 17 10," an 
exact reprint of the English *'Book of Common 
Prayer (of 1661) and Administration of tne Sacra- 
ments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the 
Church, according to the use of the Church of 
England ; together with the Psalter, or Psalms of 
David. Pointed as they are to be sung or said in 
churches." Facing the title page are the royal 
arms of Great Britain, and following it, prefatory 
to the body of the book, are twenty-three pages, 
containing " Rules for the more devout behaviour 
in the time of divine service in the Church of 
England ; with some explanations of the Common 
Prayer." The volume contains the (then) *^ New 

8 The First American 

version of the Psalms of David, fitted to the 
tunes used in churches, by N. Tate and N. 
Brady." There is nothing special to note in the 
matter of the book, which is the exact English 
Book of Common Prayer, &c., of Charles II.'s 

'Typographically^ different parts of the volume have 
different characteristics. The Prayer Book part 
has obviously been printed at a different time 
from the part having the " new version of the 
Psalms." This is obvious from the fact that in 
the Prayer Book part continuous subjects are in 
letter of two different sizes; one part in small pica 
and the rest in bourgeois. The Offertory appears 
in this way, and so sometimes does the same 
Psalm, all showing plainly enough that the founts 
were small when this part was printed. The 
whole of the *'new version of the Psalms," on the 
other hand, is in one letter — small pica ; and small 
pica, I should say, of a somewhat different face 
from that used in the body of the book — more 
round, showing that when this part was printed 
the founts had been increased. The paging of this 
part begins, too, anew, making seventy-nine pages 
of its own ; and the paper of this part is different 
from that in the Prayer Book part ; made out of 

Book of Common Prayer. 

better rags, finer and more tough ; sized also, and, 
I should say, of less weight. Whether or not 
Bradford ever printed the Prayer Book with the 
old metre Psalms I can not determine, but I think 
it plain that he printed this ''new version" of the 
Psalms, as Tate & Brady's was then called, after the 
other part of the book was done, and in a volume 
or tract by itself; doing this doubtless for the use 
of persons who had old editions of the Prayer 
Book alone, and in which nothing but the old 
versions of the Psalms were contained. His Chris- 
tianity, in this respect, was greater than his craft, 
and it is not surprising that he lost money by his 
benevolent course, although Trinity Church made 
the loss lighter to him by generously condoning 
his debt to them. The book looks at first, to a 
person accustomed to the type of this day, as 
though it was leaded. But by looking at words 
where long letters, such as / and y ox I come near 
each other on two lines, their ends are so near to 
touching that you discover that what gives the im- 
pression of the leading is due to the type having 
been cast with a long shoulder. The composition 
in the main is fair, though the division of the 
words is sometimes peculiar — different at least from 
what we make in this day, when we should space 

I o First American Book of Common Prayer. 

out and drive the syllables into a new line. The 
press-work is very creditable; the color, even; in 
some parts first-rate, though there are occasional 
light places. The calendar, in the beginning of 
the book, has some of the peculiarities universal 
in all ''rule and figure work" of that day. It is 
made up with short rule; making, of course, such 
work as now would be supposed to be made up 
with "odds and ends" of rule. In some places 
the rules lie low and are scarcely seen. In this 
part of the volume, also, the type seems worn, 
and the balls were apparently hard. The ink, at 
least, is imperfectly distributed. The main part of 
the book is much better. Altogether, considering 
the early day when the work was done, it was 
a great one ; and comparing it with publications, 
long subsequent but still early, the Prayer Book 
of 17 lo must be called very creditable to the 
typographer's art in the colonies. 

I am, with great regard. 

Most respectfully yours, 


Horatio Gates Jones, Esq.